Government must reinstate Multi-Purpose Services funding
Posted September 16, 2015
CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (09:47): Health is one of the key issues in my electorate of Indi. Today I would like to speak about funding for multipurpose services. MPSs were established in Victoria in the early 1990s, and they have a unique funding formula which is now under threat. Funds are pooled from the Commonwealth and state governments to enable rural communities to provide health, community and aged-care services—truly multifunctional. There are two MPSs in my electorate of Indi: Upper Murray Health and Community Services in Corryong and Alpine Health in the Kiewa and Ovens valleys.
Recent changes to the Aged Care Act and the establishment of Primary Health Networks jeopardise the viability of these services. We have a problem. With the changes to the Aged Care Act in July 2014, MPSs are no longer eligible to obtain accommodation contributions from residents who receive government assistance or receive accommodation supplements. They do not receive any funding through the Aged Care Funding Instrument—the ACFI.
Research from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services shows that MPSs are significantly underfunded. A comparison between MPS funding and ACFI funding for the same clients found that the current discrepancy is $25.13 a day per resident in high care, which is 18 per cent, and $56.66 a day per resident in low care, which is 65 per cent. This equates to $600,000 a year less than if equivalent services were funded through the ACFI and the MPSs were able to claim the other subsidies.
Unless these issues are addressed, the sustainability and viability of MPSs is threatened, not to mention the increased burden this would place on regional health and aged-care services in Albury-Wodonga and in Wangaratta.
Another funding situation for MPSs is the transfer, in the case of Upper Murray Health and Community Services, of $250,000 of Rural Primary Health Services funding to the newly established Primary Health Networks. Funding is only assured for 12 months. The loss of these direct Commonwealth payments—primary health plus aged-care funding—will seriously reduce the services delivered by Upper Murray Health and Community Services and Alpine Health. These are vibrant MPSs. In Towong Shire, the MPS employs 150 people and it is the largest single employer in that shire. MPSs are a vital part of the rural health mix. They must be adequately funded, and I call on colleagues opposite from the National Party to join me in the battle. We must get this reinstated.